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Museum worker Jesús Sanchez realised that the Chichen Itza sculpture was stylistically similar to two sculptures from central Mexico and the wide occurrence of the form within Mesoamerica was first recognised.The 19th century discovery of chacmools in both central Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula helped to promote the idea of a Toltec empire but the chacmool sculptures may have had their origin in the Maya region.

The Crónica Mexicayotl describes such a sacrificial stone as sculpted in the form of a person with a twisted head.

The earliest examples date from the Terminal Classic period of Mesoamerican chronology (c. In Chichen Itza, only five of the fourteen chacmools were securely confirmed in architectural contexts, those in the Castillo, the Chacmool Temple, the North Colonnade, the Temple of the Little Tables and the Temple of the Warriors.

The rest were found interred in or near important structures.

However, Tula and Chichen Itza may have developed simultaneously with rapid communication of the chacmool form from one city to the other.

The wider variety of chacmool forms at Chichen Itza has also been used to support the development of the form there; no two possess identical form, dress and proportions.

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